EBay Auctions Debut On Time Warner Cable|
Time Warner Cable is offering eBay auctions to its television subscribers in Austin, Texas, as part of the cable operator's move toward interactive TV, officials said Thursday.
The service is being tested through a deal with BIAP Systems Inc., a Plano, Texas, company developing Internet-based programming for TV. Besides its eBay on TV product, BIAP, which stands for Broadband Interactive Applications, also offers programming that delivers personalized news, weather and other information, and a sports tracker that allows fans to get up-to-date stats on their favorite players.
Through the BIAP service, Austin subscribers of Time Warner Cable, a division of Time Warner Inc., can view eBay listings and bid through their set-top box and remote control. They can also check the status of their accounts, and get alerts on when they have been outbid or have won an item.
The BIAP software is automatically installed on the Time Warner box, and subscribers can sign up for the service, at no additional charge, through their TV. EBay on TV, however, is only available to customers with a Time Warner-issued digital video recorder. The cable operator has 300,000 subscribers in Austin, but decline to say how many have DVRs. Time Warner distributes set-top boxes made by Scientific-Atlanta Inc.
BIAP's software is built on top of Time Warner's existing cable infrastructure and uses "artificial intelligence agents" to continuously retrieve, aggregate and display content from any digital source, company officials said. BIAP, which is a member of EBay's developer program, uses the online auction company's published application programming interfaces, or APIs, to communicate with EBay's computer systems.
BIAP claims its service is viewable on standard televisions, as well as the latest high-definition TVs. While EBay is not involved in the Time Warner deal, it supports the use of its APIs to extend the reach of its services. The company, however, has not made a strategic shift toward television.
"What (BIAP) has developed appears to be another example of an innovative (software) tool that may be used by EBay users," company spokesman Hani Durzy said. "But time will tell whether the EBay community finds this valuable." EBay has 10,000 members in its developer program, Durzy said.
Since 2004, Time Warner Cable has offered BIAP's personalized-information service, called PITV, to its subscribers. Time Warner is BIAP's only cable TV customer, and about a million Time Warner subscribers use its applications, Dan Levinson, executive vice president of marketing for BIAP, said.
BIAP's are the only interactive TV applications currently in use by Time Warner, Roger Heaney, spokesman for the cable operator in Austin, said. The company, however, is working on other programs, such as interactive games and telephone services, such as caller-ID through a TV.
In January, Time Warner Cable announced that it would offer America Online Inc.'s services and a customized version of its portal through the cable operator's broadband service. Under the deal, Time Warner would share subscriber revenues with AOL, which would share revenues from its advertising, search, commerce and premium services. AOL is also a subsidiary of media giant Time Warner.
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